Understanding Die-Cutting: What Is It, Its Types, Designs & Process

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die cut business card

Die-cutting is used in the packaging and printing sector to refer to the cutting out of multiple shapes using tools.


With die-cut printing, you can set precise dimensions and have the tool cut them to those dimensions every time. As you might expect, this perfection is important for product packaging design, and you need to achieve a constant and polished appearance every time.


This post covers the die-cutting process, covering the various forms of die-cutting and the necessary machinery and components. Furthermore, the article delves into numerous die-cutting capabilities and material considerations for your product packaging and printing.



What is Die Cutting?


Die-cutting is a manufacturing technique that involves customizing a die by cutting, shaping, or shearing it to create a certain shape, design, or structure. The die-cut printing is useful in the packing process to cut, ship, and print according to unique measurement standards in a dieline.



What is a Die?


Die cuts originate with a die, which is a metal device with sharp cutting surfaces.


A die is comparable to a biscuit cutter in the shape of a metal object. There are many types of dies. For example, steel-rule dies are sharp but are shielded with plastic or foam for protection.


Steel-rule dies are designed to cut thicker packing materials or a layer of less-thick packaging at the same time. Thinner metal dies, which aren't as sharp and can't cut very thick stuff, are also available.


These dies are lower in weight and simpler to carry, and they are not surrounded by foam or plastic for protection.



Manual and Digital Die Cutting Machines


die-cutting machine

Die-cutting actually took place with both digital and manual die-cutting tools.


To cut the items, manual die-cutting machines employ a turned crank. The metal dies through the tool's rollers and leverages the pressure to cut the shape of the die out of the material. Manual die-cutting tools may also have motors that facilitate the delivery of this pressure.


In most cases, digital die-cutting tools are managed by software.


They do not need steel dies since a blade cuts the shape within the tool. The shape is selected using the software. It can be generated using a computer, phone, tablet, or even a customized cartridge that the machine requires.



The Role of a Dieline in the Custom Die Cut Process


dieline template

Before you do a die-cut on any printed item, you should first sketch out what has to be cut. This is when a dieline enters the custom die-cutting procedure.


Dielines are used in die-cut print to specify the shape and dimensions of the packaging box before cutting. With so many different package forms available, if you can imagine it, possibilities are a custom packaging manufacturer can produce the material into any cuttable design.


Note that a dieline is necessary before adding finishing details to your packages like matte and gloss lamination, embossing and debossing, or UV coating.



The Die-Cutting Process


Technological advancements and die-cutting die manufacturing methods provide the most effective and flawless design of die-cut boxes. Usually, computer-aided design is necessary to develop the packaging outline (CAD).


This digitized drawing is then put on a die board, a piece of hardwood. The most complex approach for sketching designs into die boards is to use state-of-the-art laser cutters to burn designs onto the wooden board.


The use of lasers in this procedure has increased the drawing accuracy on the die board. The cutting die employs metal strips known as rules or steel rules. A rule bender is used to bend, cut, and notch steel into a suitable pattern for the cutting ruler.


In the die-cutting method, manufacturers employ several cutting rules. Based on the sophistication of the packing, each rule has its role and application.


The following are some of the most popular rule options:


  1. Through Cutting: This method of cutting through the packaging material.

  2. Scoring: Instead of cutting the substance all the way through, scoring creates an imprint indent or partial cut on a specific stress point.

  3. Creasing: It's similar to scoring in that the die generates a fold line on the packaging material. As opposed to scoring, Creasing allows for inward folding of the material by having two parallel stress sites. The presence of two stress sites enables the material to be more flexible.

  4. Perforating: It is the process of marking a line of holes along with the design materials.


Every rule is designed to meet the material thickness and aperture size.


commercial die cutter

The steel rules are manually hammered into the die board. The die is then bonded using a range of foam and rubber parts. Throughout production, these components help the die bounce off the corrugated panel.


The die-cutting machine forcefully presses the die into the cardboard, resulting in a cut-out pattern (remember the cookie-cutter). This cut-out features many lines, creases, and folds used to build the packaging by hand, based on the complexity of the packaging design.


The extra material is collected and recycled to be used.


Making separate dies for every piece of packaging is an expensive process. But, it's a one-off price that is offset when numerous requests for the same packaging are created over time.



Using Die-Cutting and More to Create Your Packaging


As you can see, die-cutting is a highly versatile method to cut, shape, and print your packages so that you can replicate the final result. Die-cutting is not only accurate, but it also gives you a lot of flexibility with your candy pad manufacturing in the last step.


But, we know that not everyone is a printing and packaging expert. Fortunately, we will be happy to answer any questions you have regarding our candy pad manufacturing process or how it will fit into your chocolate packaging design. You can also explore our custom candy pads offering here.

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